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Lightning decision, when in need

Calcutta, July 29: Twenty-eight days and counting, the Bengal administration is yet to make up its mind on how to proceed on a complaint filed against Trinamul MP Tapas Paul’s speech.

One day and counting, the Bengal government has decided to move a division bench of Calcutta High Court to challenge the legality of Justice Dipankar Dutta’s interim order directing a probe into the speech.

The jury is still out on what has hurt the government more: the order for a CID probe itself or the observations by the judge.

“Yes, our government has decided to move an appeal against the interim order passed by Justice Dipankar Dutta yesterday,” minister of state for law Chandrima Bhattacharya said today.

Asked whether the government would challenge the validity of the entire interim order, including the observations, the minister said: “For details of the appeal, you have to wait.”

A high court official said that the appeal was likely to be moved before the division bench of acting Chief Justice Asim Kumar Banerjee and Justice Arijit Banerjee.

‘VERY GOOD JUDGE’
Nure Alam Chowdhury, a former high court judge and Trinamul MLA, said on Tuesday in response
to a question: “Dipankar Dutta is a very good judge. Dipankar Dutta is a judge whose head is held high. I know him personally. I don’t want to comment much on this matter. The high court judge has given a ruling after hearing all sides. I feel that every one should abide by the ruling till the matter is not going to the division bench or Supreme Court.”

The interim order had asked Bengal police to register an FIR “immediately but not later than 72 hours”.

Police sources said an FIR had not been filed till this evening as there was no instruction from the superiors.

Asked, Nadia SP Arnab Ghosh said: “We are yet to be officially communicated about the court’s instructions.”

A high court lawyer said state government lawyers present in the courtroom yesterday should have informed the district police to check the order on the high court website as the judge had mentioned.

Sources in the state administration said that the district administration did not act as the government had already decided to challenge the order.

“The observations have put the state in an embarrassing situation. So, in its appeal, the state will challenge the validity of the entire order and seek a permanent stay,” a source said.

The government is expected to build its case on the contention that the police cannot take cognisance of a matter on the basis of media reports.

Justice Dutta had asked the police to register the FIR on the basis of a complaint that was filed on July 1.

The state government’s position is the complaint was based on media reports. “If the police cannot take cognisance, how can they initiate proceedings?” asked a government source.

This point was raised in Justice Dutta’s courtroom. But the court had overruled the government’s objection and said in the interim order: “It would be perfectly legal for someone to derive knowledge of incidents from media reports… and then to verify the contents of the concerned paragraphs… as ‘true to knowledge’.”

The order had added: “The question involved here is the allegation of gross dereliction of duty by the police. Believing or not believing a newspaper report is not an issue.”

The government will pray before the division bench to expunge paragraphs 49 and 52 to 55 in the interim order (See Where it hurt the Bengal government and what we know).

A senior lawyer said the legal fraternity would closely watch the outcome because of the “nuanced manner” in which the interim order was drafted.

“In some cases, Justice Dutta’s observations were based on Supreme Court verdicts. He had also quoted Martin Luther King, Jr. A higher bench will have to take a decision without giving the impression that these are also being questioned.”

Paul’s lawyers are also expected to move the division bench.


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